Deadline: Equestrians urged to take a stand in relation to off-road routes

Equestrians in Northern Ireland are being urged to contact their local MLA in relation to opening up the historic network of trails in the province and allowing public access to them.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 9:48 am

The British Horse Society (BHS) is working had to lobby the Northern Ireland Assembly and work in partnership with stakeholders for the provision of safe off-road opportunities to include equestrians, incentives for landowners to provide such access, and to protect and extend the access that exists to beaches, forestry and other areas.

The opportunity comes as part of the Greenway Strategy, which aims to enable public access to the disused railway network.

It would provide much-needed, safe, off-road routes for horse riders, as well as walkers and cyclists, to enjoy.

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Image: British Horse Society.

In recent years, the BHS has worked to enable access to several new sites where equestrians would previously not have had access.

This access is on a multi-user basis, i.e. walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

BHS is pleased to see permits being either removed in exchange for more modern administration and site management systems, which are free of charge to the public, or where permits are still used, that they are being applied fairly to all users such as Drumkeeragh, managed by Newry, Mourne and District Borough Council, and Gortin Glen Forest managed by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

The BHS is urging horse riders in Northern Ireland to contact their Legislative Assembly Member today to ask them to speak out and vote for any access created out of the Greenways Strategy to provide for multiple users across the country.

With limited access to off-road riding routes in Northern Ireland, equestrians are forced to use the roads to reach safe hacking routes, putting themselves and their horses at risk.

The BHS is committed to enhancing and maintaining the UK’s equestrian access network and is encouraging people to help ensure horse riding is included as part of the Greenways Strategy.

Time is running out to have your say.

The application deadline for funding in support of Greenway projects are to be submitted before Friday (3 December) by councils.

For more information on how you can help, including a template letter that can be amended as desired, visit: https://www.bhs.org.uk/our-charity/press-centre/news/2021/november/ni-greenways-strategy

To find your local MLA to contact, visit: http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/your-mlas/locate-your-mla2/